Then a tremendous flash of light cut across the sky . Mr. Tanimoto
has a distinct recollection that it traveled from east to west, from the city
toward the hills. It seemed like a sheet of sun. РJohn Hersey, from

Hiroshima, pp.8 On August 6, 1945, the world changed forever. On that day the

United States of America detonated an atomic bomb over the city of Hiroshima.

Never before had mankind seen anything like. Here was something that was
slightly bigger than an ordinary bomb, yet could cause infinitely more
destruction. It could rip through walls and tear down houses like the devils
wrecking ball. In Hiroshima it killed 100,000 people, most non-military
civilians. Three days later in Nagasaki it killed roughly 40,000 . The immediate
effects of these bombings were simple. The Japanese government surrendered,
unconditionally, to the United States. The rest of the world rejoiced as the
most destructive war in the history of mankind came to an end . All while the
survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki tried to piece together what was left of
their lives, families and homes. Over the course of the next forty years, these
two bombings, and the nuclear arms race that followed them, would come to have a
direct or indirect effect on almost every man, woman and child on this Earth,
including people in the United States. The atomic bomb would penetrate every
fabric of American existence. From our politics to our educational system. Our
industry and our art. Historians have gone so far as to call this period in our
history the Тatomic ageУ for the way it has shaped and guided world
politics, relations and culture. The entire history behind the bomb itself is
rooted in Twentieth Century physics. At the time of the bombing the science of
physics had been undergoing a revolution for the past thirty-odd years.

Scientists now had a clear picture of what the atomic world was like. They new
the structure and particle makeup of atoms, as well as how they behaved. During
the 1930Хs it became apparent that there was a immense amount of energy
that would be released atoms of Gioielli 2certain elements were split, or taken
apart. Scientists began to realize that if harnessed, this energy could be
something of a magnitude not before seen to human eyes. They also saw that this
energy could possibly be harnessed into a weapon of amazing power. And with the
advent of World War Two, this became an ever increasing concern. In the early
fall of 1939, the same time that the Germans invaded Poland, President Roosevelt
received a letter from Albert Einstein, informing him about the certain
possibilities of creating a controlled nuclear chain reaction, and that
harnessing such a reaction could produce a bomb of formidable strength. He
wrote: This new phenomena would lead also lead to the construction of bombs, and
it is conceivable, though much less certain-that extremely powerful bombs of a
new type may thus be constructed (Clark 556-557).The letter goes on to encourage
the president to increase government and military involvement in such
experiments, and to encourage the experimental work of the scientists with the
allocation of funds, facilities and equipment that might be necessary. This
letter ultimately led to the Manhattan Project, the effort that involved
billions of dollars and tens of thousands of people to produce the atomic bomb.

During the time after the war, until just recently the American psyche has been
branded with the threat of a nuclear holocaust. Here was something so powerful,
yet so diminutive. A bomb that could obliterate our nations capital, and that
was as big as somebodies backyard grill. For the first time in the history of
human existence here was something capable of wiping us off the face of the

Earth. And most people had no control over that destiny. It seemed like peoples
lives, the life of everything on this planet, was resting in the hands of a
couple men in Northern Virginia and some guys over in Russia. The atomic bomb
and the amazing power it held over us had a tremendous influence on American

Culture, including a profound effect on American Literature. After the war, the
first real piece of literature about the bombings came in 1946. The work

Hiroshima, by Jon Hersey, from which the opening quote is taken, first appeared
as a long article in the New Yorker, then shortly after in book form. The book
is a non-fiction account of the bombing of Hiroshima and the immediate
aftermath. It is told from the point-of-view of six hibakusha, or ТsurvivorsУ
of the atomic blast.